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Minnesota hatchery jeopardizing trout stocking

Minnesota’s flagship state-owned trout hatchery in Lanesboro needs $5 million in improvements so anglers can continue to enjoy a regular supply of stocked trout in streams and lakes throughout the state.

Opened in 1925, the Lanesboro hatchery needs urgent repairs to protect the facility from flooding, to replace structures contaminated with mold, and to make critical repairs to rusting steel beams nearing failure.

“Lanesboro illustrates how decades-old hatchery construction and improvements, some dating back more than a half-century, are failing and need immediate attention,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Lanesboro is one of the 15 state hatcheries that play an important and irreplaceable role in our fisheries management work.”

Repairing state fish hatcheries is just one part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s 2018 public works bill.

For the entire DNR, Dayton is asking the Legislature to invest $130 million in urgently needed improvements to buildings and other infrastructure. The DNR needs to make these fixes, which are detailed at mndnr.gov/aboutdnr/legislativeinfo/capitalassets, to provide recreation and natural resources services. These repairs also create hundreds of construction jobs for Minnesotans.

The DNR has identified about $13 million in statewide hatchery repairs and improvements, including:

Maintaining and fixing hatchery raceway, ponds, and roads;
Making energy efficiency upgrades; and
Replacing and upgrading hatchery equipment.

Located in southeastern Minnesota, the Lanesboro hatchery sits on about 100 acres south of town. The property includes two artesian springs, rearing ponds, raceways and multiple buildings. It produces about 100,000 pounds of rainbow and brown trout fingerlings, yearlings and brood stock each year for stocking throughout the state.

Hatchery buildings suffer from poor ventilation, which traps moisture. Although buildings are cleaned and painted regularly, mold has contaminated the hatchery and made the hatchery’s residence uninhabitable. Moisture also has rusted the steel beams that support the hatchery’s ceiling, making a building collapse a possibility if nothing is done.

Don Pereira, DNR fisheries chief, said Lanesboro is the DNR’s primary concern, but each the state’s 15 hatcheries contribute to the state’s fish-stocking needs.

Each year, cold-water hatcheries in Altura, Lanesboro, Peterson and Remer provide 1.7 million trout for stocking into 200 lakes and 100 streams throughout Minnesota. Trout raised at these hatcheries include brook, brown, lake, rainbow and splake.

Cool- and warm-water hatcheries in Walker Lake, Bemidji, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Glenwood, Grand Rapids, New London, Park Rapids, St. Paul, Tower and Waterville provide walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and channel catfish for stocking in 1,100 lakes and some rivers.

“Fish produced by our state-owned hatcheries are a critical part of the DNR’s efforts to maintain and enhance fishing opportunities in 4,300 managed lakes and 16,000 miles of fishable streams and rivers, “ Pereira said. “Stocking these hatchery-raised fish significantly enhances fishing in Minnesota by providing angling opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise exist.”

For more information about state fish hatcheries, visit the DNR website at
mndnr.gov/areas/fisheries/hatcheries.html.